Education and the Internet of Things

Here are the slides from a presentation for the South Australian Department of Education & Childrens’ Development – Luchtime Bytes Series.

For those who just want a link click here. Printable PDF here.

The original copy of this blogpost was posted on

Installing MySQL Workbench on Ubuntu 11.10

Thanks to Olivier Berten for providing this package via his PPA Repo !
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:olivier-berten/misc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mysql-workbench-gpl

EDIT: this has been confirmed to work on Ubuntu 12.04 (Precise Pangolin) as well).

Facebook – good riddance !

Finally I made the effort to completely get rid of my Facebook Account. After initially getting a Facebook Account in the very early days (as an ‘occupational hazard’ to investigate the potential of Facebook Applications) I have always been suspicious of the companies motives and decided not to use such a closed system as a base for application development.

Recent developments have only confirmed this suspision:

Instead I will concentrate all of my content inside this blog (including as a backup for other social services I create). I believe the control over my own content is important enough for me to warrant the extra effort.

Facebook Delete
Facebook Delete

As the saying goes: ‘You are not a Facebook User – you are the Product’

Google Docs – custom styles

One of the most annoying things in the recent ‘upgrade‘ of the Google Docs editor was the removal of the ‘Edit CSS’ and ‘Edit HTML’ functionality without any replacement (such as a Custom Styles Editor).

Thanks to a discussion on the Google Help forum (where 100’s of people wonder how this could have been called ‘upgrade’) I discovered this hack.

LibreOffice Styles

  1. Create an empty document in LibreOffice or OpenOffice (MS Office is also reported to work)
  2. Change the default styles (using Format –> Styles and Formatting (F11))
  3. Upload the resulting document to Google Apps (Note: you will need to convert to GoogleDocs) and use as a template

To get the ARIAL font on Ubuntu I also had to do install the MS Fonts package



Install Microsoft Fonts on Ubuntu

If you have kids going to school you will know these questions:

  1. Why can’t you have Microsoft Office ?
  2. I can not find ‘xyz’ font on this …. – why ?

I have managed (after some time) to convince my kids that there is no need for having a particular Word Processing Software and they are much better off knowing the concepts of text processing rather than some particular office package. Unfortunately I have had no look convincing many teachers that they should follow a similar principle ….

However the second is a bit harder as some schools specify the font that has to be used (go figure). The fact that this might not be available for all and choosing an open font family has obviously not occurred to many schools.

Hence the need to install some of these fonts:

sudo apt-get install msttcorefonts
#to refresh the font cache (or you can reboot)
sudo fc-cache -fv

Note: You will have to enable the “multiverse” repositories in “Software Sources”

Alternatives to Google Adsense

Due to a recent absolute Customer Service failure with Google Adsense I have done some research on the alternative to Google Adsense as a content-sensitive mobile and web advertisements.

We are currently reviewing the following services:

Once we have some results I will update this post. Please add your comments should you have any (good or bad) experiences with similar services.

Hat tip goes to the following listing pages to get started:

GoogleApps (Gmail) as default Ubuntu mail client

Keeping mail on a local machine does not make sense when working across a large number of different (vitual) devices. As a GoogleApps user I have long preferred browser based mail client as my default.

Unfortunately this is not yet a very straight process on most Operating Systems and Ubuntu is no difference.

Edit: all the commands need to be run with root privileges. so either run “sudo su” or prefix all with “sudo ” (thanks to Paul for the comment below)

Remove Evolution (thanks to Grant Likely for the comment below)

apt-get remove evolution evolution-indicator

Install Gnome-Gmail

apt-get install gnome-gmail

Create entry for gnome-gmail using your preferred text editor and copy the following into the created file:

vim /usr/share/indicators/messages/applications/gnome-gmail
#insert this line

Edit this file: /usr/share/applications/gnome-gmail.desktop and add the following line:


Update desktop database for Gnome Gmail to be recognised as an email program:


Go to System Settings –> Preferred Applications and choose gnome-gmail as the default e-mail client

Log out for the changes to the indicator to take effect (or kill gnome-indicator process).

Desktop Notifications

Find the direct link to a Twitter status update

I sometimes need to link to a specific Twitter status update and since the recent upgrade (or as I personally see it downgrade) of the Twitter UI it is quite annoying to find the Status ID, as it can not be copied from the interface (without some Javascript debugging tools at least).[screen_name]

This will show the users timeline in XML format revealing the Status ID in the XML result. The following URL can be used to then construct the permalink to the specific status update:[screen_name]/status/[status_id]

Not a particular hard thing to do, but annoying and time consuming if you have to remember. Hope this saves somebody some time.

Enjoy !